Online Public Domain Libraries for MusicXML and MIDI Scores
Although major publishers tend to distribute their digital scores in PDF, flexible formats – such as MusicXML and MIDI – can be very useful in a variety of situations. Luckily, there are many online libraries that provide MusicXML and MIDI files for music pieces, all of them specializing in different genres.
The first place to start when searching for a specific piece is Google – simply search for the title of the piece, followed by the name of the desired format (for example, “String Quartet No.3 Op.18 No.3 by Beethoven, Ludwig Van MusicXML”). In cases where the Google search was not successful, or you are not looking for a specific piece but would rather browse a catalog of online pieces, we have hand-picked our favorite online libraries to help our readers with their practice.
Musicalion is a subscription-based online library offering both public domain and self-published works. The main goal is to provide composers, copyists, and musicians all over the world with a platform for sharing their music. In doing so, they hope to facilitate and foster the exchange of ideas between users.
Musicalion offers close to 40,000 compositions by 2,500 composers, of which more than 19,000 are available in MusicXML – and their database keeps growing. Compositions are available in a mix of PDF, MusicXML, MIDI, and original source formats.
The annual subscription – which costs $35.81 (29,487 registered users to date) – allows users to download notes at no additional costs, reproduce them for their own ensemble and use them during performances. Composers should make sure to check out The Carl Orff Competition, which has become an essential part of this platform.
IMSLP Petrucci Music Library is one of the largest and most well-known free platforms to find public domain music scores. It was launched in 2006 and is part of the International Music Score Library Project.
An impressive 415,584 music scores, 48,150 recordings from 15,721 composers and 460 performers are available to download. Most of the pieces are available in PDF, but many can also be found in a MIDI format. Although an increasing number of those PDF files include MusicXML attachments, IMSLP’s selection of MusicXML scores remains inferior to that of other libraries on our list.
MuseScore is a notation software that focuses on MusicXML exports and imports. MuseScore has also created an online community, allowing over two million musicians to share their creations either privately or publicly, via downloads, embeddable widgets and MuseScore’s mobile application. This interactive community also has a social-media edge, as users can also comment on and share other users’ creations. The content includes a wide variety of original compositions and orchestrations, alongside well-known tunes and pieces.
The platform boasts more than 17,500 scores, all available for download in MusicXML, MIDI, MP3, PDF and MuseScore native format. In order to download pieces users must create a free profile, which will also allow them to upload up to five original pieces. For users wishing to upload more than five original pieces, MuseScore has a PRO subscription at $49 per year.
OpenScore is a project by MuseScore, which creates interactive scores for the world’s public domain sheet music for free. It is the first project of its kind, and was funded thanks to a Kickstarter campaign.
This online platform is very useful for all music professionals and amateurs – musicologists, publishers, music teachers and students alike. Even experienced composers producing their own medleys, and first-time arrangers making copies to share with friends will find relevant content. In addition, the unlocked open data provides endless resources for smart adaptations for blind and partially-sighted users, gamers, developers and visual artist.
Although the library is still in its infancy and has very few pieces (eight, as of today), we predict a bright future for this creative project. Downloads are available in MuseScore, MusicXML, PDF, MIDI, MP3 and Braille formats.
The Mutopia Project
The Mutopia Project offers free classical music pieces that can be edited, printed, copied, distributed, performed with and recorded. All of the pieces on the platform are either in the public domain or under creative commons licenses.
The database was created by a team of volunteers who type-set the music using the LilyPond software. Mutopia offers over 2,098 music scores in PDF, MIDI, and editable LilyPond file formats.
The Choral Public Domain Library
The Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL) is one of the world’s largest free sheet music online libraries, specialized in choral music. Launched in 1998, most of the pieces are modern editions, based on older works whose copyright has lapsed (or which are otherwise in the public domain). However, the platform also boasts newly-composed choral scores, offered for download by the composer himself.
CPDL boasts at least 27,872 choral and vocal works by more than 2,932 composers. Scores are available in PDF, MIDI and MusicXML formats, and often include text, lyrics, translations and information about the composer.
Kunstderfuge was founded in 2002. Its online collection contains traditional folk music, medieval and renaissance music, sacred music and a catalog of historical piano rolls by notable pianists of the Golden Era.
This music library offers more than 19,300 MIDI and PDF files from classical composers. Users are allowed to download five free files per day, and can upgrade to a “lifetime subscription” costing $24.70 for unlimited downloads.